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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Lineup Prep: Super Bowl

Wed Feb 7 8:43am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Related photo caption below

Pacheco is playing at high level


Not sure about you, but there is not a better weekend in sports than Super Bowl weekend. It is as good as it gets. Just everything involved with it is so much fun. I am so looking forward to it all this weekend. Let’s hope it is a good game and lives up to the hype. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . .

I will give you my pick for the game right off the bat. I think it will be a close game, but look for the Chiefs to squeak it out. I think the experience factor plays a difference here in the end, especially when it comes to the quarterback position. Patrick Mahomes has been outstanding during the playoffs and think he has a huge advantage over Brock Purdy. Plus, the Chiefs defense has been outstanding lately, completely shutting down the opponent. I don’t see them shutting down the 49ers high-powered offense, but think they will cause Purdy problems. I’m going with a Chiefs 31-27 victory.

If you still don’t have any fantasy teams alive in the playoffs, consider playing our fun pickem contests. We have tons of options available to play with for the Super Bowl. I wanted to give you a few of my favorite pickem plays for the big game. Give me Travis Kelce more than 70.5-receiving yards. Kelce has 71-plus yards all three of his playoff games and is coming off arguably his best game of the season. And the 49ers struggled to stop the tight end last week, seeing Sam LaPorta rack up the receptions and yards. I also like Brandon Aiyuk less than 61.5-receiving yards. Aiyuk has failed to hit that mark two of three games and has just three catches each of his last three games. Lastly, I like Deebo Samuel more than 79.5-rushing and receiving yards. Samuel had 11 touches his last game and was a huge part of the offense. I look for the 49ers to get him involved early and often, giving him good potential to rack up some total yards.

I’m not sure how I feel about the Commanders hiring of Kliff Kingsbury. His offenses were fine in Arizona, but not as explosive as many thought and he struggled some using Caleb Williams last year at USC. I think the Commanders would have been better served keeping Eric Bieniemy as their offensive coordinator. I thought he did a great job with the offense last year in Washington all things considered. I’m not convinced Kingsbury is going to be an upgrade.

On a different subject, can we stop teasing and showing parts of the Super Bowl commercials before the game? I mean part of the fun of the game is the commercials. They are always entertaining and a part of the event. But now, you see parts of the commercials before the game, ruining the surprise. C’mon people. Let’s stop this tradition right now.

We had our first TFC draft of the 2024 season last night. And in a surprise move, the first pick of the draft was Breece Hall. And we also saw Sam LaPorta get picked before Travis Kelce. It is always interesting to see how these early drafts shake out. A lot is going to change between now and the start of next season, but trends are starting now. In this draft, four running backs were picked in the first round compared to eight receivers. And the quarterback position looks as deep as ever with guys like Jordan Love getting picked in Round 11. Brock Purdy and Kirk Cousins also went very late.

News and Notes: The Chargers hired Greg Roman as their new offensive coordinator. Roman tends to be more run heavy when it comes to play calling. . . . .Former Texans and Patriots running back Rex Burkhead announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday. 

HOT PLAYS

Isiah Pacheco, RB, Chiefs. Pacheco has taken his game to new heights during the Chiefs playoff run. He has at least 15 fantasy points four straight games and found the end zone seven consecutive games. He even has 20-plus carries two of three games, getting a big workload in the Chiefs offense. Expect more of the same this week from Pacheco. The 49ers allowed 182-rushing yards to the Lions their last game and allowed 135-plus rushing yards each of their two playoff games.

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs. Kelce has looked like a different player during these playoffs than the regular season. He had 11 receptions his last game and at least five catches all three playoff games. He has 14-plus fantasy points all three games. He has really elevated his game after a ho-hum second half of the season. Look for him to be the focal point of the Chiefs passing game once again this week. And San Francisco couldn’t contain Sam LaPorta in the Championship game, allowing him to get nine receptions for 97 yards. The Packers tight ends had six receptions and a touchdown in the 49ers other playoff game.

COLD PLAYS 

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers. Aiyuk did score a touchdown his last game, which was a big positive, but he had just three receptions. He has just three cathodes three straight games. He has were than 40 yards two of three. And with the Chiefs secondary clamping down on receivers right not, it could be more of the same for Aiyuk this week. He could be held in check once again.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Chiefs. McKinnon is expected to make his long-awaited return this week, returning from a groin injury. He has not played since Week 15. Just remember he has not reached double-digit touches in a single game this year. Pacheco is the lead back in this offense and will get most of the work at running back. McKinnon played great during the Chiefs playoff run last season, but this is a new year. Plus, McKinnon has not played in several weeks, so you have to wonder how much he is even on the field. He will be a big risk to use for fantasy owners.

SLEEPERS

Jauan Jennings, WR, 49ers. There are always surprise players in the Super Bowl, so why not Jennings. He could draw the most favorable matchups in coverage for the 49ers receiver options. And he has looked good in the playoffs, having six receptions for 69 yards in two games. He played 42 percent of the snaps last week - even with Deebo Samuel back in the lineup. Jennings might get a big play or two in this one, making him an intriguing fantasy play. 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Chiefs. Valdes-Scantling had the game-clinching reception in the Championship game, making a sliding catch on third down to clinch the game. He finished with two receptions for 38 yards. But he played a season-high 83 percent of the snaps in that game, which is encouraging. If he is on the field that much again this week, his reception and yardage totals could rise in what might be a high-scoring game.

High/Low Scoring Games

Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.

High Scoring Games: Chiefs/49ers.

Low Scoring Games: None.

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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Player Notes
Austin Ekeler Jun 14 9:20am ET
Austin Ekeler

Washington Commanders new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury appears to be using some two-running back sets during mandatory minicamp this week involving Brian Robinson and Austin Ekeler. In what will be a vastly different offense under Kingsbury in 2024 with rookie first-round quarterback Jayden Daniels at the helm, Washington figures to use Robinson as more of the between-the-tackles, early-down back, with Ekeler serving as the primary pass-catcher out of the backfield. The 25-year-old Robinson had 43 targets in 2023, but he stands to lose a hefty amount of targets to Ekeler this year. With more competition from Ekeler, B-Rob is going to need to remain productive and hold onto the football to be a viable RB3/flex for fantasy managers in standard-scoring leagues. Ekeler should be more valuable as an RB3/flex in point-per-reception formats.

Trevor Lawrence Jun 14 2:13am ET
Trevor Lawrence

Dynasty | The Jaguars have signed quarterback Trevor Lawrence to a contract extension. Dynasty Analysis: Lawrence and the Jags agree to a five-year, $275 million contract extension with a reported $200 million guaranteed, including $142 million up front. Lawrence also received a $37.5 million signing bonus. It's a massive contract for a quarterback billed as the "next great thing" but realistically performing as "the next good thing." Lawrence is currently ranked as our QB9 and that seems about right for a player who has yet to really show he's truly an elite fantasy option.

From Dynasty League Fantasy

Marcus Maye Jun 14 1:03am ET
Marcus Maye

The Miami Dolphins officially signed free-agent S Marcus Maye (Saints) on Thursday, June 13.

From TheHuddle

Jordan Phillips Jun 13 10:53pm ET
Jordan Phillips

New York Giants DT Jordan Phillips (wrist) has not participated in minicamp and was limited to individual work during offseason activities as he recovers from wrist surgery.

From TheHuddle

Calais Campbell Jun 13 8:43pm ET
Calais Campbell

Free-agent DE Calais Campbell (Falcons) agreed to terms with the Miami Dolphins Thursday, June 13, according to sources. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

From TheHuddle

Myles Garrett Jun 13 5:13pm ET
Myles Garrett

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett (hamstring) is expected to be fine despite suffering a hamstring injury during practice Thursday, June 13, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski.

From TheHuddle

Lamar Jackson Jun 13 4:23pm ET
Lamar Jackson

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson could earn more pre-snap responsibilities in his second year under offensive coordinator Todd Monken, according to recent comments from quarterbacks coach Tee Martin. 'It takes him understanding how we're blocking things up front to get us to the best run and the best pass for whatever coverage we're facing. He's accepted it and done a heck of a job of getting us into the right play, and today was probably the best day in a long time of him really just having the freedom to do what he wants to do. We saw some really good plays and some positive gains with him doing that today,' Martin said.

Fantasy Spin: Jackson reportedly dropped 20 pounds this offseason and appears to be taking on more of a leadership role than he ever has in 2024. The addition of Derrick Henry - combined with what should be a more explosive Jackson than we have seen in recent years - could set up the two-time NFL MVP for another career year. Jackson should be considered a strong overall QB1 candidate this season.

From TheHuddle

Marlon Humphrey Jun 13 4:03pm ET
Marlon Humphrey

Baltimore Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey (undisclosed) has been limited to mostly individual work this offseason, but head coach John Harbaugh suggested after the team's final minicamp practice on Thursday, June 13, that Humphrey 'should be ready for training camp.'

From TheHuddle

Taysom Hill Jun 13 3:33pm ET
Taysom Hill

New Orleans Saints QB Taysom Hill reportedly agreed to a restructured contract that converted his base salary to a signing bonus and lowered his salary cap number from $15.7 million to $6.8 million.

From TheHuddle

Myles Garrett Jun 13 3:13pm ET
Myles Garrett

Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett (hamstring) suffered an apparent left hamstring injury during an early defensive line drill during minicamp practice on Thursday, June 13.

From TheHuddle

Marcus Mariota Jun 13 2:43pm ET
Marcus Mariota

Washington Commanders QBs Jayden Daniels and Marcus Mariota each saw significant snaps with the first team during the spring and nothing has been determined yet in regards to which one will start the season, according to head coach Dan Quinn on Thursday, June 13.

Fantasy Spin: By all accounts, Daniels has been sharp so far - a sentiment that Quinn confirmed Thursday. It would likely take a meltdown of epic proportions for the No. 2 overall pick in this spring's draft to not win the job. Assuming that is the case, Daniels' combination of anticipation and athleticism should make him a strong fantasy QB1 option right out of the gate.

From TheHuddle

Alvin Kamara Jun 13 2:23pm ET
Alvin Kamara

New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara skipped the team's final mandatory minicamp practice on Thursday, June 13, due to what is believed to be contract-related reasons, according to Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com.

Fantasy Spin: Kamara will get nearly a $10 million bump on his base salary over the last two years, so that is likely not the issue. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports the two sides have been discussing a contract restructure for a few months, likely with an eye on 2025 when Kamara is set to make $25 million. Expect the two sides to get something worked out over the next month or two to keep Kamara in New Orleans at a much lower number past this season.

From TheHuddle

DeAndre Carter Jun 13 12:13pm ET
DeAndre Carter

Free-agent WR DeAndre Carter (Raiders) signed an undisclosed deal with the Chicago Bears, according to sources Thursday, June 13.

From TheHuddle

James Cook Jun 13 12:10pm ET
James Cook

Buffalo Bills running back James Cook dropped five passes last season, which ranked sixth among all qualified running backs. Early in offseason activities, the third-year pro out of Georgia has continued to struggle in that area, according to Bills reporter Alex Brasky. "James Cook allowed a pass to bounce off his hands, high into the air near the start of team drills at Wednesday's mandatory minicamp." Brasky wrote, "Cook encountered issues with drops last season and has done little to ramp down those concerns during offseason activities." While this is somewhat of a concern, it can often be overplayed when analyzing a player's fantasy football value. After catching 44 passes for 445 yards and ranking second among running backs in yards per reception, the team is unlikely to pull back his receiving workload. That said, rookie fourth-rounder Ray Davis caught 62 passes over his final two collegiate seasons in the SEC and could become a factor on third downs.

From RotoBaller

Jonathon Brooks Jun 13 12:10pm ET
Jonathon Brooks

Carolina Panthers head coach Dave Canales wouldn't say whether or not second-round rookie running back Jonathon Brooks (knee) will be ready for the start of training camp next month. The Texas product is recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered on November 11 against TCU last year. Although Canales did not provide an update, he did say the team would ease him into action when he's ready to go. While Brooks should eventually be the clear lead ball carrier in Carolina, he might be on a snap count early in his career. On top of that, the Panthers offense is likely to be one of the worst units in the NFL once again. Brooks is one of the tougher players to evaluate in fantasy football, but he should be able to produce at least low-end RB2 numbers in the second half of his rookie campaign. His upside could be capped if quarterback Bryce Young and his supporting cast don't take a significant step forward in 2024.

From RotoBaller

Romeo Doubs Jun 13 12:10pm ET
Romeo Doubs

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Romeo Doubs has had an "outstanding" offseason, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. The 2022 fourth-round pick hauled in 59 passes for 674 yards and eight touchdowns last season, and he delivered a six-catch, 151-yard, one-touchdown performance in the Wild Card win over the Dallas Cowboys. The 24-year-old should remain one of Jordan Love's favorite targets in 2024, though the team's pass-catching group is crowded with Christian Watson, Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks, Luke Musgrave, and Tucker Kraft. Given the uncertainty of the target pecking order, all of the Green Bay receivers and tight ends have an ADP outside the top 70 picks, and Doubs presents a potential value pick at his 138.4 ADP in classic FFPC drafts.

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Marquise Brown Jun 13 12:10pm ET
Marquise Brown

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquise Brown signed a one-year deal with the organization this offseason, and he has been heavily involved in the passing attack during OTAs and minicamp. The 2019 first-round pick has a path to the No. 1 wide receiver role, especially with Rashee Rice's legal troubles and Xavier Worthy's (hamstring) injury that is keeping him out of practice. Brown said he is building chemistry with Patrick Mahomes early in camp. "It has been good, from when we first started going back in Dallas until now," Brown said. "Just keep improving. He's trusting me more, so that's good." While "Hollywood" has not lived up to his first-round status, he has a 1,000-yard season under his belt and has hauled in 313 passes for 3,644 yards, and 28 touchdowns through his first 72 games with the Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals. He's unlikely to be a volume hog with Kansas City, but he should have chances for several spike weeks catching passes from the best quarterback of his career.

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Juwan Johnson Jun 13 12:10pm ET
Juwan Johnson

New Orleans Saints tight end Juwan Johnson (leg) suffered a lower-leg injury and is expected to miss a good amount of time, according to sources. While it's unclear if Johnson is now a candidate to miss the start of the 2024 regular season, at the very least he's going to miss the start of training camp next month and valuable repetitions as the team looks to get ready for next season. The 27-year-old's injury will open up more reps for the likes of Foster Moreau, Taysom Hill, rookie Dallin Holker, Michael Jacobson and Tommy Hudson this summer. Johnson took a step back in 2023 and finished with 37 receptions for 368 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games (11 starts) in his fourth year in the NFL. Even if Johnson is ready for Week 1 of the regular season, Hill will probably cut into his targets enough to keep him as a low-upside, touchdown-dependent TE2 in fantasy.

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Ja'Marr Chase Jun 13 12:10pm ET
Ja'Marr Chase

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase wasn't fully participating in practice at mandatory minicamp for the second straight day on Wednesday and was in tennis shoes with no helmet on, but he did take part in the install portion on both days. Chase didn't take part in 7-on-7 drills on Tuesday. The 24-year-old is seeking a long-term extension from the club, and while he is in attendance so he won't get fined, it appears he's not doing much on the field. Barring a surprise development, the Bengals and Chase should be able to eventually work something out to keep him in Cincinnati for the long haul. The former fifth overall pick in 2021 out of LSU has been a Pro Bowler in each of his first three seasons in the NFL and has gone over 1,000 receiving yards in all three years as well with a combined 29 touchdowns in 45 regular-season starts. Chase is an easy top-five fantasy wideout.

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Joe Burrow Jun 13 12:10pm ET
Joe Burrow

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (wrist) said it is "tough to say" what percentage health-wise he is at right now but reiterated "I'll be ready to go by the season." Burrow didn't look right early on in 2023 after injuring his calf during training camp last summer, and then he suffered a season-ending right-wrist injury in Week 11 against the Baltimore Ravens. The former first overall pick in 2020 out of LSU has bookended his four seasons in the NFL so far with serious injuries, but he's been a solid QB1 option for fantasy managers otherwise. The 27-year-old should be full-go for training camp next month and should be ready for the Week 1 season opener this fall, barring any setbacks with his wrist in training camp and the preseason. With one of the better one-two punches at wideout in the league, Burrow should be a fine midrange QB1 target in fantasy drafts after the big names at the position come off the board.

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